Photo By: Steven Herrera (stevenherreraphotography.com)
Hey im here today with Jake Luhrs of HeartSupport to chat about how his organization came about and what influenced him to create it with the help of a few friends!
1. Could you tell us the background on Heart Support and How Heart Support came about?
Five years ago, I was touring with a band called A Day to Remember and realized after the show how blessed I was to be touring and living my dream. I wanted to give back to all the kids I had seen at the merch table and after the show. A lot of them struggled with addiction, depression, and similar things I’d gone through as a kid. I prayed about it and after that, HeartSupport was born to give them a place to get the help they needed whenever and wherever they needed it.
2. What made you decide to begin this organization?
Just seeing the need for what these kids were going through. The fact that they would tell me that they struggled with cocaine, being sexually abused, cutting, or things like that. It inspired me to help them. Knowing the next day I would be in a different state, I wanted to give them a place to go to as a safe haven where they didn’t have to struggle alone like I did when I was growing up. They could have other people to talk to, people who were being honest, who were going through the same things.
3. What were some of the things that you have faced in your life that made you want to put together this incredible organization?
Coming from a divorced family, there was a lot of anger, yelling and screaming, and I definitely felt lonely. When I was 20 years old I was really depressed and used alcohol and women as an escape. I wanted to commit suicide, and that was pretty much that. Then I found Christ, and he dug me out of the hole. And I have a close family member addicted to heroin. So a lot of things these kids are going through—maybe it was abuse, addiction, divorce, drugs, using your body—I could relate to a lot of it, you know?
Photo By: Steven Herrera (stevenherreraphotography.com)
4. What are some of the services that Heart Support offers in order to connect with those who need the help you can provide?
In everything HeartSupport does, we want to empower the people that come to the site. We’ve got this saying, “Hold Fast, We Believe in You” because we believe that you can overcome. And HeartSupport is the place where you can go to have other people really believe in you and care about you. We’ve got bands who talk about their struggles on video so you know you’re not alone. We’ve got blogs where we talk about what we learned in the middle of our struggles so you can get advice and get inspired. And we’ve got community on the site so you can ask the questions and start to apply it to your own life. We give you a place to get honest without being judged so you can get started on the path to a better life.
5. Who are some of the ambassadors of Heart Support? (Does any bands or individual artists or any brands support Heart Support?)
Ever since our Unite the Scene campaign, we’ve had so much support from the music scene as a whole. We struck a chord in the hearts of fans and bands across the scene because we’ve all been changed by music in one way or another. We’ve all felt loved at concerts from complete strangers because we share that common bond. Our scene is like a family, and when we spoke up to try to make that better, people responded. Bands like Black Veil Brides, Memphis May Fire, We Came as Romans, Yellowcard, Erra, blessthefall, Beartooth, The Color Morale, The Word Alive, Crown the Empire, P.O.D., Ghost Town, Echosmith, Our Last Night, Fit for a King, Tonight Alive, Emery, War of Ages, Texas in July, A Skylit Drive, I the Breather, Wolves at the Gate, Volumes, Silent Planet, Phinehas, Darkness Divided, Gideon, Sinners to Saints, Everything in Slow Motion, Shadow of Whales, even freaking Korn, man. And I’m sure there are a couple I missed too because there were just so many. It’s like the whole scene rallied together to say, “We’ve got something really special here, and we want to make it even better.” Some of those bands even stepped up and will be helping us further this year. Some of them have done interviews for us (Click here to check them out), some of them are helping us raise money to get on Warped Tour, some of them asked us to come out on tour with them. And all of them have touched us with their friendship and belief in us and what we’re doing. I’m humbled and grateful for all of these awesome bands and the wave of support they’ve given us so far.
6. You recently started the hashtag #UniteTheScene, what do you hope this Hashtag achieves? What exactly does this hashtag mean?
We hope that it brings fans and bands and even people who work in the industry closer together. We’re a family, you know? We want everyone from the top of the scene to the bottom to understand that it’s ok to be real and honest and open. We want to send a message of respect—honoring and loving each other where we are in the place that we’re at with no expectation that you need to be any different than who you are right now. Because we love each other, and we accept each other. We want the scene to be the place you don’t have to pretend to be anyone else, the place where you’re safe to be you. Out of anywhere, our scene has the potential to be that. And we see the centerpiece that brings them all together is HeartSupport. To do this, we’re wanting to bring more bands and their teams to be involved with the community and their fans, and we’re that vessel and that bridge to connect the two.
7. Would you say music is a major starting point to help someone thru their life struggles? Would you say music is what brought Heart Support together? How powerful would say music is?
Yeah music is a starting point for people to help themselves. The power of music is why we’re all here and talking right now. I’ve seen music really help and encourage people, and it’s used as a tool to do good in the world or do bad in the world. And we’ve chosen for it to do good. A lot of people find their strength in music, you find a lot of people say music saved my life. It’s definitely something that can be used in a positive light. And that’s the connecting point for HeartSupport. It wouldn’t be around if I wasn’t in music or if I didn’t have fans who were open to me because of my music. The reason they feel they can pour into me about what they’ve gone through is because of music, because they connect with my lyrics. It’s the foundation of kids finding strength and of HeartSupport being able to grow and connect with them through music.
8. Has there been any stories/recoveries that really stuck out to you and thought this is it, I have to help?
One story from HeartSupport that encouraged me to continue doing what I’m doing here was a girl I met at Warped Tour who was molested by her brother until he got engaged. She went and told her mom, but she yelled back at her and blamed her for trying to tear their family apart. When she came to warped tour, she asked me about this free book we had at the table called Rid of My Disgrace. I mean all of our books are for free, so I gave it to her, and she ended up reading it, getting encouraged, going to church because the book is faith based, met a counselor there, and told her look I was molested by my brother until he got engaged and laid it all out. She told her about the book thinking she had never met anyone in the world with the same one, and then the counselor opened up her drawer and pulled out the same book. And now has a relationship with that counselor on a week to week basis and has a relationship with Jesus and is on a course to a better life. The fact that it just took 5 minutes and a free book from HeartSupport to do that just encourages me to do what I’m doing with HeartSupport.
9. What is one piece of advice for ANY PERSON going through a tough time?
Hope is real, and the more that you just take time and take those small steps each day, the more you’ll see that. It’s just like building a wall, and they’re all made out of bricks, and we need to just have hope and have faith that we exist for a reason and for a purpose and that we can’t expect these high expectations that we give ourselves. Shame is not good, and it doesn’t come from a good source. We need to not believe lies about ourselves and just remember that one step is one step closer, and to have faith that one day the wall that you need or have been looking to build will be built.
10. What are your goals with Heart Support ultimately? Where are you planning on taking this organization as it continues to grow?
Our ultimate vision for HeartSupport is that no music fan would have to go through their struggles alone. That after a concert when reality hits them—all the pain from their past floods back or what they’re going through in that moment is there again—they don’t have to go through it alone. They know that there are thousands and hundreds of thousands of people who want to talk to them and encourage them at HeartSupport. That in the moment they need it most, they have a place to go. Because we’ve all been there, you know? We’ve all been in that dark place and didn’t know where to turn. We want to solve that problem for everyone. That everyone would have that place to go, that family to turn to. That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish in the end, and you see it in our Unite the Scene stuff. So that looks like HeartSupport being on tour year round with different bands at different festivals and concerts. That looks like HeartSupport’s presence being in every metal venue across the country. That looks like hundreds of bands sharing their stories on HeartSupport and talking to kids every night about their struggles and helping them in those conversations at the merch table. It looks like us all coming together and uniting the scene.
11. Where can fans find HeartSupport on the road? (Will you guys be on Warped Tour 2015? Is HeartSupport currently out on the road with August Burns Red?)
HeartSupport will be at South by Southwest and South By So What, and we are currently raising $40,000 to go on this year’s Warped Tour. If you want to help us get there, you can donate $50 or more at www.heartsupport.com/donate
* Anything you want to say to your fans and the supporters of Heart Support? Where can they find Heart Support online and how can they donate?
The last thing I’d like to say to my fans is that I appreciate them and that if you’re in that place, you have HeartSupport. Not everybody’s got something huge that they’re struggling through, but if you have anything—big or small—check out HeartSupport, and I hope that it would be an encouraging place for you. Thanks for being a fan of the band and reading this interview!
Seek Help If you Need it: www.heartsupport.com/get-help
Learn About The HeartSupport Staff: www.heartsupport.com/about
Donate If You Can: www.heartsupport.com/donate